‘Who I am onstage is not who I am’: A Reflection

arlene caffrey reflections on performative self vs authentic self blog

‘Who I am onstage is not who I am’…

These words that Michelle Kasey recently wrote hit me really hard and got me thinking about my own performative self vs. everyday self.

Who I am onstage is essentially a story-teller. The part of myself who wants to make you feel seen, to bring you joy and to make you believe in magic.

That part of myself that is richly embellished with rhinestones and otherworldly shimmer, a monument to the femininity and strength that I was in awe of as a young woman.

The stage is a space for me to express strength and story-telling that is rooted in what is true.

Hopefully it’s not a surprise that I do not strut about my everyday life in a sparkly bikini and high heels (though I am not saying that I haven’t considered spending the entirety of my days in this attire).

When you see me offstage, I look like your typical arty-farty millennial who is still trying to figure out how to dress themselves now that they’re somehow inexplicably middle aged (thanks for the reminder Blindboy Boatclub)

It also may come as a surprise that I do not spend every minute of every day thinking about or practicing pole dancing. However, I used to.

In my early 20’s I relied heavily on my pole dancer identity, which brought me a lot of success and validation.

Now, I am trying hard not to base my identity solely on the things that I do, but on the qualities I have and the ways I can bring a bit of joy and meaning.

Creating and sharing my stories onstage is just one way in which I do this.

Thanks so much Michelle Kasey for the prompt about identity, and also Jeni Janover for prompting me to further reflect on this topic during this week.

📷 @ekav110 and @slavicakostovski